exponential

A curious proof of the Baker-Campbell-Hausdorff formula

November 4, 2015 phy1520 No comments , , ,

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Equation (39) of [1] states the Baker-Campbell-Hausdorff formula for two operators \( a, b\) that commute with their commutator \( \antisymmetric{a}{b} \)

\begin{equation}\label{eqn:bakercambell:20}
e^a e^b = e^{a + b + \antisymmetric{a}{b}/2},
\end{equation}

and provides the outline of an interesting method of proof. That method is to consider the derivative of

\begin{equation}\label{eqn:bakercambell:40}
f(\lambda) = e^{\lambda a} e^{\lambda b} e^{-\lambda (a + b)},
\end{equation}

That derivative is
\begin{equation}\label{eqn:bakercambell:60}
\begin{aligned}
\frac{df}{d\lambda}
&=
e^{\lambda a} a e^{\lambda b} e^{-\lambda (a + b)}
+
e^{\lambda a} b e^{\lambda b} e^{-\lambda (a + b)}

e^{\lambda a} b e^{\lambda b} (a + b)e^{-\lambda (a + b)} \\
&=
e^{\lambda a} \lr{
a e^{\lambda b}
+
b e^{\lambda b}

e^{\lambda b} (a+b)
}
e^{-\lambda (a + b)} \\
&=
e^{\lambda a} \lr{
\antisymmetric{a}{e^{\lambda b}}
+
{\antisymmetric{b}{e^{\lambda b}}}
}
e^{-\lambda (a + b)} \\
&=
e^{\lambda a}
\antisymmetric{a}{e^{\lambda b}}
e^{-\lambda (a + b)}
.
\end{aligned}
\end{equation}

The commutator above is proportional to \( \antisymmetric{a}{b} \)

\begin{equation}\label{eqn:bakercambell:80}
\begin{aligned}
\antisymmetric{a}{e^{\lambda b}}
&=
\sum_{k=0}^\infty \frac{\lambda^k}{k!} \antisymmetric{a}{ b^k } \\
&=
\sum_{k=0}^\infty \frac{\lambda^k}{k!} k b^{k-1} \antisymmetric{a}{b} \\
&=
\lambda \sum_{k=1}^\infty \frac{\lambda^{k-1}}{(k-1)!} b^{k-1}
\antisymmetric{a}{b} \\
&=
\lambda e^{\lambda b} \antisymmetric{a}{b},
\end{aligned}
\end{equation}

so

\begin{equation}\label{eqn:bakercambell:100}
\frac{df}{d\lambda} = \lambda \antisymmetric{a}{b} f.
\end{equation}

To get the above, we should also do the induction demonstration for \( \antisymmetric{a}{ b^k } = k b^{k-1} \antisymmetric{a}{b} \).

This clearly holds for \( k = 0,1 \). For any other \( k \) we have

\begin{equation}\label{eqn:bakercambell:120}
\begin{aligned}
\antisymmetric{a}{b^{k+1}}
&=
a b^{k+1} – b^{k+1} a \\
&=
\lr{ \antisymmetric{a}{b^{k}} + b^k a
} b – b^{k+1} a \\
&=
k b^{k-1} \antisymmetric{a}{b} b
+ b^k \lr{ \antisymmetric{a}{b} + {b a} }
– {b^{k+1} a} \\
&=
k b^{k} \antisymmetric{a}{b}
+ b^k \antisymmetric{a}{b} \\
&=
(k+1) b^k \antisymmetric{a}{b}.
\end{aligned}
\end{equation}

Observe that \ref{eqn:bakercambell:100} is solved by

\begin{equation}\label{eqn:bakercambell:140}
f = e^{\lambda^2\antisymmetric{a}{b}/2},
\end{equation}

which gives

\begin{equation}\label{eqn:bakercambell:160}
e^{\lambda^2 \antisymmetric{a}{b}/2} =
e^{\lambda a} e^{\lambda b} e^{-\lambda (a + b)}.
\end{equation}

Right multiplication by \( e^{\lambda (a + b)} \) which commutes with \( e^{\lambda^2 \antisymmetric{a}{b}/2} \) and setting \( \lambda = 1 \) recovers \ref{eqn:bakercambell:20} as desired.

What I wonder looking at this, is what thought process led to trying this in the first place? This is not what I would consider an obvious approach to demonstrating this identity.

References

[1] Roy J Glauber. Some notes on multiple-boson processes. Physical Review, 84 (3), 1951.

Update to old phy356 (Quantum Mechanics I) notes.

February 12, 2015 math and physics play No comments , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s been a long time since I took QM I. My notes from that class were pretty rough, but I’ve cleaned them up a bit.

The main value to these notes is that I worked a number of introductory Quantum Mechanics problems.

These were my personal lecture notes for the Fall 2010, University of Toronto Quantum mechanics I course (PHY356H1F), taught by Prof. Vatche Deyirmenjian.

The official description of this course was:

The general structure of wave mechanics; eigenfunctions and eigenvalues; operators; orbital angular momentum; spherical harmonics; central potential; separation of variables, hydrogen atom; Dirac notation; operator methods; harmonic oscillator and spin.

This document contains a few things

• My lecture notes.
Typos, if any, are probably mine(Peeter), and no claim nor attempt of spelling or grammar correctness will be made. The first four lectures had chosen not to take notes for since they followed the text very closely.
• Notes from reading of the text. This includes observations, notes on what seem like errors, and some solved problems. None of these problems have been graded. Note that my informal errata sheet for the text has been separated out from this document.
• Some assigned problems. I have corrected some the errors after receiving grading feedback, and where I have not done so I at least recorded some of the grading comments as a reference.
• Some worked problems associated with exam preparation.